GREEN BAY - John Barnes is taking the next step in his basketball coaching life after joining the Wisconsin-Green Bay women's program Monday.
The Escanaba native spent the past year as an assistant coach at University of Michigan under Kevin Borseth, who last month returned to UWGB as head coach. Barnes will be associate head coach.
Barnes, who pulled to the side of the road to talk while house hunting in Green Bay Monday, said the location and familiarity with Borseth were key factors in his decision to join the Phoenix.
"That was a very important decision compared to other jobs I was offered," said Barnes, who played at Michigan Tech during Borseth's tenure as head women's coach.
"That was a big selling point in coming to Green Bay. I know what he expects of me and he knows what I can do," Barnes said of taking a very attractive position. "There were a lot of people wanting the job."
He also interviewed recently for an assistant's role at Saint Louis University under Lisa Stone, who he worked for in 2010-11 at University of Wisconsin.
"I really liked it and I liked working for her," Barnes said. "They are really pushing to get the program headed in the right direction. Distance was a major factor (in declining the offer)."
He already knew of the UWGB opportunity and liked the idea of living close to his home town and Houghton, where he spent 2003-10 as women's head coach at Michigan Tech. He still owns a home there.
He also interviewed for the head coaching position at University of Northern Kentucky after his stint at Michigan ended. "I thought it went very well. It was a good experience to go through the process," he said.
"I was pretty picky as far as where I was interested in going," said Barnes. "I'm at the point where I want to work with someone I know I have a good relationship with. The area and distance all were factors."
The job ended up going to fellow Michigan assistant and Michigan Tech alum Dawn (Zarling)?Plitzuweit.
Barnes was 156-55 with Michigan Tech and led the Huskies into the NCAA Division II tournament five times, including consecutive Elite Eight appearances. He was GLIAC coach of the year five times and regional coach of the year in 2010.
He also coached the Baraga High School girls in 1995, the Chassell JV boys in 1995-96 and was an assistant at Lake Superior State.
"John's experience and success at Michigan Tech and his knowledge as a head coach there will serve him well as we work together to continue building the program at Green Bay," Borseth said in a news release.
"John understands the type of student-athlete we are looking for and is very familiar with the style of play that has been consistent with Green Bay's success."
Barnes said he will have the same role at UWGB as he did at Michigan, although he will go over details with Borseth today. "I will be recruiting, in-game coaching, study film and do scouting," he said.
The biggest factor in joining the Phoenix was working for Borseth last season.
"He was great to work for. He understands the game, he lets you do your job, he doesn't micro-manage. He lets you do your strengths," said Barnes.
Barnes interviewed for the UWGB head position when Borseth left for Michigan in 2007, a job that went to Matt Bollant. Bollant became head women's coach at University of Illinois in March, which opened the door for Borseth's return.
"It is still the goal to be a Division I head coach at some point, but I'm not in any hurry," Barnes said. "Any experience I get will help me be successful when I get that opportunity. It (UWGB) is always the place I wanted to be."